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The Safavid Dynasty

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 12 January 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Safavid Dynasty, rulers of the Persian empire between the 16th and 18th centuries.

In 1501 Shah Ismail, a boy of fifteen, declared himself ruler of Azerbaijan. Within a year he had expanded his territory to include most of Persia, and founded a ruling dynasty which was to last for more than two hundred years. At the peak of their success the Safavids ruled over a vast territory which included all of modern-day Iran. They converted their subjects to Shi'a Islam, and so created the religious identity of modern Iran - although they were also often ruthless in their suppression of Sunni practices. They thrived on international trade, and their capital Isfahan, rebuilt by the visionary Shah Abbas, became one of the most magnificent cities in the world. Under Safavid rule Persia became a cultural centre, producing many great artists and thinkers.

With:

Robert Gleave
Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter

Emma Loosley
Senior Lecturer at the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures at the University of Manchester

Andrew Newman
Reader in Islamic Studies and Persian at the University of Edinburgh.

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    Emma Loosley, ‘Messiah and Mahdi: Caucasian Christians and the Construction of Safavid Isfahan’ (East & West Publishing, London, 2009)

    Rudi Matthee, ‘The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900’ (Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2005)

    Saeid Khaghani, ‘Islamic Architecture in Iran: Poststructural Theory and the Architectural History of Iranian Mosques’ (I. B. Tauris, London & New York, 2012)

    Aptin Khanbaghi, ‘The Fire, the Star and the Cross: Minority Religions in Medieval and Early Modern Iran’ (I. B. Tauris, London & New York, 2006)

    Eleanor G. Sims, with Boris I. Marshak & Ernst J. Grube, ‘Peerless Images: Persian Painting and Its Sources’ (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2002)

    Alice Taylor, ‘Book Arts of Isfahan: Diversity and Identity in Seventeenth-Century Persia’ (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1995)

    A. J. Newman, ‘Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a Persian Empire’ (London: I. B. Tauris Ltd, 2008)

    C. Melville (ed.), ‘Safavid Persia’ (London: I. B. Tauris Ltd, 1996)

    K. Rizvi, ‘The Safavid Dynastic Shrine’ (London: I. B. Tauris Ltd, 2011)

    Sussan Babaie, ‘Isfahan and Its Palaces’ (Edinburgh: EUP, 2008)

    R. W. Ferrier, ‘A Journey to Persia: Jean Chardin’s Portrait of a Seventeenth-century Empire’ (London: I. B. Tauris Ltd, 1996)

    S. Quinn, ‘Historical Writing During the Reign of Shah Abbas’ (Salt Lake
    City: University of Utah Press, 2000)

    S. Canby, ‘The Golden Age of Persian Art, 1501–1722’ (London: British Museum Press, 2003)

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